“Inter-war Venetian” style doorway with tortoises and iguanas

"Inter-war Venetian" synthetic style doorway, mid-1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The exquisite doorway presented in these images adorns a mid-1930s house in a synthetic architectural style developed in that period in Romania, which consists in large part in a mixture of Neo-Romanian and Italian Renaissance motifs inspired especially from the Venetian types, a style which I term as “Inter-war Venetian“. Specifically Neo-Romanian in this instance is the grapevine motif decorating the wall opening rim and outer arch, present also within the column capital and base, while “Venetian” is the general aspect of the columns and assembly. The most peculiar aspect of this doorway is represented by the tortoises and iguana-like lizards decorating the column base corners, denoting symbols of which I am quite ignorant, perhaps symbolysing the ground, the solid surface of the earth, the “terra firma” in Latin or “dorso duro” in the Venetian language, while the birds and winged dragoons represented on the capital symbolise the sky and heavens. I look forward to be enlightened in that regard by my more knowledgeable readers. 🙂

"Inter-war Venetian" synthetic style doorway, mid 1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)
"Inter-war Venetian" synthetic style doorway,decorated with tortoises and iguanas at the base of the column, mid 1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Tortoises and iguanas as part of the decoration of the doorway’s columns, perhaps symbolising the earth and ground bound world aspiring to higher ideals in life, etc.

"Inter-war Venetian" synthetic style doorway, mid-1930s house, Aviatorilor area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

Highly ornate columns containing bird and winged dragoon motifs, symbolising the sky and heavens and the manichean battle between good (birds) and evil (dragoon/ reptile).


I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.


If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

2 thoughts on ““Inter-war Venetian” style doorway with tortoises and iguanas

    • Hi Ellen, nice to hear from you! That question became a bit of an obsession for me in the last few days and I had to go back to that doorway and try to solve the “mystery”. I took better photographs and there is a sort of lizard, iguana, four legged reptile. I will update later the title and the put a new photograph. In this case we have reptiles down on the ground trying to climb up to the sky and reach the birds and dragoons. I think the meaning could be one about aspirations, achievements, etc. Valentin



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